What does a typical day look like for you?
The exciting thing is that no two days are ever really the same. Obviously it’s important to try to keep abreast of what is unfolding during the day internationally. I deal with clients directly, so much of my day is taken up with face-to-face meetings. As each client is different and has unique requirements, you have to be able to be very nimble and be able to pivot, staying on top of things but also guiding them through the process as efficiently as possible.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Money is emotional. I enjoy meeting with people and being able to put their minds at ease. I think exchanging your hard earned rands into another currency and sending it to a foreign country can be quite an emotional journey in a sense. There is just so much new information out there, and sometimes misinformation. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to answer people’s questions and be a resource they can come to for answers.
There is a perception that the financial services arena can be a "boys club" - is this true?
Yes, I think as with most generalisations there’s definitely a kernel of truth, but I am meeting more and more young women who are entering the sector, and qualifying themselves further in order to enter at a higher level. So the ladies are taking the world back and I think that if we, as women in finance, support and encourage each other, rather than be intimidated by the competitive nature, then the essence of the industry will definitely change. At Incompass we’re a bit of a rose garden, with a 95% female team, and that’s phenomenal, we’re this "army of pink" that just gets things done!
What strengths do women bring to this sector?
I would say that overall women are a little bit more open to show their vulnerabilities, once you are honest about that you tend to be more authentic, more sincere, and that builds trust. I think we’re inclined to be open and honest and we’re a little bit quicker to admit when we don’t have all the answers - we don’t have to blush as much as the gents sometimes do! Relationships build on trust are a very fragile thing and they need to be tended, and if you don’t commit to being authentic 100% of the time you will never get referred or build a name for yourself as someone who is valuable and reliable.
Some advice for those entering the sector?
I would definitely say, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know something. And don’t be afraid to be proved wrong. Learn from your mistakes. Educate yourself and have a good understanding of exchange control and the international banking system. There’s a lot of worth in seeking out a mentor who can challenge you on your opinions as it’ll help you defend your positions. It’s a good thing to be challenged. Lastly, build a strong network within the industry, this will become key to your success.
Any tips for non-professionals keen to send money offshore?
Yes, first things first, be aware of your allowances. As a South African you only have a certain amount to take offshore every year, so do not exceed those limits. Get someone who can assist with obtaining a tax clearance for you! And other than that, as tempting as it may be, you can’t exchange money emotionally - do not specifically try and time the value of a currency. With both Brexit and Trump, people thought that a certain outcome would result, and it didn’t; so nothing is certain. If you want to invest the foreign currency, get a well-qualified financial advisor to help you. Take the time to educate yourself and to listen to advisers whom you trust and have proven their worth. And only go as far as your risk appetite allows you. You win some, you lose some - if anyone could predict the markets, we’d all be millionaires!
Read about other Femmes in Finance:
- Technical Analyst - Moxima Gama
- Economist At Citibank - Gina Schoeman
- Retail Client Service Consultant at Coronation Fund Managers - Kylie Janse van Vuuren
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Nicole Cameron is a features writer with over twelve years’ experience, focusing primarily on the business market with a niche focus on entrepreneurship. She has written on a variety of topics for Sharenet and is excited to be focusing on women in finance in her new monthly column "Femmes in Finance". She holds a Business Science degree from UCT and is passionate about reporting on the events and people that make up the local business landscape.